The Chris McDaniel Bus Sputters and Rallies

McDaniel had also been scheduled for a 7 a.m. meet and greet at a truck stop on a two-lane highway in east Philadelphia called Bobby’s Country Store, where a group of older men sipped coffee just inside the door. When McDaniel was already 30 minutes late, Grover Vining, 63, who said his stepson runs the place, found a hand-written phone message on the counter.

McDaniel wouldn’t be coming after all, it stated.

Vining, a member of Shriners International and a McDaniel supporter, said he’s voted for Cochran in the past but believes it’s time for someone new.

“He’s just been there too long and is kind of disconnected,” Vining said. “He was a great senator, represented Mississippi well, but it’s time for some new blood — that’s true for all the Senate.”

Vining said he was excited to see McDaniel at Deanco later that morning. To kill time, he directed a reporter to downtown Philadelphia, the town where three civil rights workers were murdered 50 years ago next month. They had been arrested June 21, 1964, and held at Neshoba County Jail, not far from where the old train depot now houses the town’s welcome center.

In Union, Peavy, who had gotten there early, informed a reporter the event wouldn’t be a rally at all, rather just a stop at a gas station, where McDaniel could chat with a local business owner as the bus refueled. The 1996 bus rolled into the small corner station, and McDaniel, sporting a full head of dark brown hair, a big smile and a navy suit, stepped off about 10 minutes later.

He walked inside the small station office, where the half-dozen deer heads mounted on the wall outnumbered the potential voters. He asked for the support of the woman behind the cash register — a Union native who a few minutes earlier had said she probably wouldn’t vote.

Roll Call